After traveling for around 90 minutes covering a distance of around 70 km from Tanjavur, we reached Gangaikonda Cholapuram . Currently a small village. But it was not so little over 700 years ago. For it was the then capital of the Chola empire. Built by Rajendra Chola I after his great victory in the north of India.
Once we reached there, we saw one has to leave their shoes before entering the temple. So we decided to keep shoes in the car. A shoe stand is available which looks over them on payment. During day time, stone becomes and a carpet has been rolled over the stones leading to the main gate. But does not help. The huge main gate leads to a large Nandi statue made of sand stone. It is one the most decorated Nandi I have ever seen. Little further, on an elevated platform is a small blank Nandi statue. Both these Nandis are facing lord Shiva. To reach the sanctum sanatorium, one has to take stairs from the left or right hand side and go through a beautifully crafted pillared passage. Inside the sanctum sanatorium, only oil lamps are lit. This added to the beauty and mystique when we saw the Shiva linga. The overall structure has some similarity with Brihadeshwara temple in Tanjavur. But Gangaikonda cholapuram temple is smaller in scale.
The temple area is a rectangle in shape and has a fortified boundary wall. Besides the main temple there are nice grass lawn. On the left hand side of the large Nandi, is a statue of lion. My mind ran wild on the thought, whether lion existed in Tamil Nadu around 1000 years back?
We took a walk through the grass lawns while exploring old stone statues and the temple architecture. It is a living temple, that is, prayer to the lord is still performed everyday. It is also home to many birds like pigeons and parrots.
The temple is very nicely maintained. It should on your must visit list, if you tour Kumbakonam / Tanjavur.
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